Field conditions in Oklahoma range widely from fields that have just dried down enough to plant to other areas that need a rain to get planted. Most of the state has had some moisture in the past few weeks and, with the exception of the northwest corner of the state, there is deep moisture even where the surface is dry enough to need another rain.

Wheat planting has advanced rapidly the past ten days. A significant portion of wheat has emerged given favorable cooler temperatures and the net result is the potential for the best winter wheat pasture in Oklahoma of the past several years. Some of the early planted wheat is well established and will be ready for grazing before the end of October.

Many producers have been focused on getting the wheat planted and proceeding rather cautiously on cattle buying. Stocker prices decreased in September for lack of stocker cattle demand. There is, however, continued interest in grazing winter wheat and indications that stocker buying will pick up in the next few weeks. It is hard to bet against the normal seasonal pattern and predict higher calf prices from early October into November but increased stocker demand may at least stabilize prices and offset some of tendency for seasonally weaker prices in October. Higher prices are possible as strong stocker demand may exceed the limited supplies of feeder cattle available.

Feeder futures prices have decreased in the past month lowering hedgeable spring feeder prices but the recent decrease in stocker purchase prices leaves the overall winter grazing budget with roughly the same margin as a month ago. In general, winter grazing budgets suggest a modest return to cattle above wheat pasture and other production costs. Certainly there is plenty of production and price risk for winter grazing but the situation at this time looks as favorable as any in recent years.

Source: Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist